You have to suffer to be beautiful

She had just poured excruciating hot liquid wax on my body. “Il faut souffrir pour être belle,” she said as she ripped the wax, all the hair and my dignity off in one swift gesture. I let out a bellow that shocked her. She then laughed said I sounded like “un cerf en rut.” … A rutting stag. Still gasping from the pain, I managed to ask how the hell did she know what that even sounded like, she shrugged and said that she was dating a hunter.

That sums up the relationship the French have with being beautiful, you first have to suffer. Maybe that is why they are world renowned for being beautiful and as tough as tacks.

When you make a monthly visit to have hot wax poured on your private parts as well as other parts of your body, you know that you are a warrior and really don’t need to take shit from anyone.

A friend recently told a story at a dinner party how she opted for electrolysis. How each individual hair was removed permenantly and… painfully. We sat there with rapt attention as she explained how she was in tears with the needle sharp poking pain … everywhere. But instead of being horrified, we whipped out our phones to write down her dermatologist’s number.

…but not all French beauty techniques are painful. Massages, spa days and other pampering is de rigueur. AND French women find the time to take care of themselves. In between full time jobs, home, husband and kids, they still find the time to have their nails done… and pay for it out of their own bank accounts.

Last Mother’s Day, I decided that I would take advantage of a deal at a spa. An hour of anti-age facial treatment. Sounded good to me! I show up for my appointment with my hair in an updo. They asked me to remove all jewelry and any metal Bobby pins in my hair. Strange request, but alright. I settled in on a comfortable table, the lights were dim and calm music was playing. I was just starting to relax when the massuse walked in.

She spoke to me in soothing tones and I nodded dreamily while I listened with closed eyes. And then I felt two cold pieces of metal on my temples. Still going with the flow, I tried to stay in the zen zone.

That is when she turned on the electricity.

Waves of pain coursed over my forehead and I jumped up screaming “what the hell” in French. I made her show me what she held in her hands and she explained in a trembling voice that by using electricity it will relax my wrinkles…and that nasty line that was clearly apparent in between my eyebrows.

Oh, as I tried to relax my face and the angry lines I looked at her tools and they resembled what I had seen in pictures of electrical shock therapy, in mental hospitals. But if they could reduce my wrinkles… So I laid back down on the table.

She started again …and turned the electricity back on. It was ok. Really.

More on the scale of a whimpering dog than a rutting stag, but ok.

She worked on my forehead, my temples and I started to relax again when she brought those babies down by my jaw line. My eyes shot open as every nerve and every cavity ever touched by a dentist or orthodontist in 40 odd years came vividly to life. “Ahhh AAAH”

Remember the scene when Dr Frankenstein brings the monster to life? That was me, that was us. I sat up garbling incomprehensibly, she cowering with her “happy” sticks in a corner. She squeaked out, “do you have any metal work in your mouth? Metal work? METAL WORK??? My mouth is nothing but metal work. I still have a bar left over from my orthodontist days when I was 16 and is still holding my teeth in place.

She was trying to talk me back on the table by saying it would make me look younger. That stopped the monster. I raised an eyebrow, quieted down and asked, “how much younger?”

“12 months younger”

Nope. Nopity nope nope.

Only 12 months? For 5 or 3 years even I might have gotten back on that table, but 12 months? She needed to work on that marketing pitch.

Even I won’t suffer for a measly 12 months….

then again…

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